Movie Review By Erik Petersen
"Blind Faith" begins in 1989 as successful lawyer John Williams, played by Courtney B. Vance watches the trial results of a racially motivated murder. The case triggers his memories of a similar trial, when he was a young criminal defense attorney just starting out.
The film was directed by Ernest Dickerson who rose to fame as the acclaimed cinematographer on several of Spike Lee's films including, "Malcom X", "Jungle Fever" and "Do The Right Thing." Dickerson's previous directing credits include "Juice", which stars the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
Set in 1957 the film features Vance, Charles S. Dutton and Kadeem Hardison as three brothers each on a different path. They're drawn together when Dutton's son Charlie Junior, played by Garland Whitt, gets into trouble with the law and a courtroom drama ensues.
Nearly the entire cast delivers solid performances; Dutton in particular is frightening as the controlling family patriarch Charles Williams. Vance and Hardison also turn in fine performances, as a diligent defense attorney and thoughtful jazzman respectively. Lonette McKee does an adequate job as Dutton's long-suffering wife Carol.
Unfortunately what starts out as a promising legal thriller ends up as a muddled commentary on racial injustice and the civil rights movement. The dialogue is full of cliches and the big plot twist is obvious from the beginning. Screenwriter Frank Military's script is ambitious but ultimately it falls short.
The pacing is also frustrating, rather than wrap things up with the trial we instead suffer through numerous appeals and have to witness countless scenes of melodrama pushed over the edge by a contrived music score, at one point the family all hold each other and sob uncontrollably for what feels like an eternity.
Dickerson's skill as a cinematographer is evident through out, particularly in the early scenes shot in black and white. At times "Blind Faith" has the noirish look of "L.A. Confidential", unfortunately what's missing is the well-told story.
© 1999 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 1/27/99
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